Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Sound of Silence

While meditating this week, my thoughts seem to be pacing a large ring around the concept of “Silence”. Well, duh. I know. Isn't the common conception of meditation “Close your eyes and think of nothing”? Possibly, but “nothing” isn't the same as “silence.” In fact, “quiet” isn't “silence” even in a place that is perfectly still. I've had a house guest on and off these past couple of weeks. I need to work from home during the day, and she currently has no employment. She would sit in the living room and create – beads, jewelry, medicine pouch – while I attended to my Insurance accounts... and not a word was spoken. My home was not only quiet, but it was the most contented silence I've experienced in a long time.

Yet, it was a different kind of Silence my mind was fuddling with, rubbing it like a worry bead or coming back to it, over and over, like a Mala. Who knew there were categories of Silence? Ah, but I think there are.

We've all heard the “Silence is Golden” proverb. The notion is so old, there is even a form of it written in ancient Egypt. I guess that's spelled: owl, squiggly line, squiggly line, gold lump, finger to lips. Or maybe they found this on the temple wall:

Poet Thomas Carlyle saw Silence as a positive, a place deep within where ideas manifest and come together, and are brought forth whole – somewhat like Athena springing full borne from the head of Zeus. We all know that it is often wise to keep one's own counsel. My hero, Abe Lincoln, said “ Better to remain silent, and be thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt.” (Atta boy, Abe!)

In the Craft, and other magical traditions, you hear of the four rules: “To Know, To Dare, To Will and To Keep Silent.” In this instance, the “Silent” aspect is a necessity. To achieve Spellcraft, one needs knowledge, courage, strength of conviction, and the ability to let the “Work” stand on it's own. Talking, explaining, bragging, expounding on what you just did is a sure way to suck the life out of the Spell and hone in on yourself. In this instance, Silence is a good thing.

In my own life, however, I have more often encountered – and utilized – Silence in a different way. When I was young, and dealing with a clinically depressed mother, I would often be subjected to a sudden rave. This was typically focused on how I was lazy, fat, and wanted to be treated like “Rockefeller's daughter,” how my siblings didn't help either, and how she's always worked her fingers to the bone from the time she was 4-years-old. (Indeed, Mom did work hard – by choice. She never let anyone help.) When the rant was over, I would get “the silent treatment.” To her, it was a punishment. To me it was a blessed relief!

When I was married, I often hit a wall of silence from the hubby. When there was a problem, he would not communicate. When there was something that disturbed him, he would treat me with disdain and silence. When I came right out and demanded we discuss our problems, he would stare then walk away. (We haven't been married for years, are now good friends, and he has learned to speak out...or else I'll bitch slap him into next week...

 Love you, Gary, but you know I would!)

When I taught creative writing, and the children misbehaved, I would come to a complete halt, and stare in silence. (I can imitate my Irish Great Grandmother's stare. She had a bit of a thyroid problem, so her eyes were a tad bugling. When she did an intense stare she put the fear of God in her family, according to Mom. In America, her picture hung on the pallor wall. My mother would be told “Behave – your grandmother can see you”...and there she was, with bulging eyes. Yikes!)

Not Granny, but you get the idea.

To me, silence was a teaching method. It was/is also an interrogation technique. From police shows like “Bones” we've learned that the guilty are uncomfortable with silence. Sit quietly once they're stopped speaking, and they will start again, to fill the void.

Punishment, technique, method...what I never realized is the truth. As Charles De Gaulle once said: “Silence is the ultimate weapon of power.”

Yes – Silence is a weapon. Lately I have experienced it again in my attempts to try and live a more positive life. Don't get me wrong; some of my gestures have really borne fruit and repaired emotional bridges. However, some have been met with crickets and tumbleweeds. That confused me – which started the meditative walk around the subject. Silence IS power, as the ancient mystics knew. It can also be manipulative, crushing, and a means of control. I knew that when I was teaching, but it didn't even cross my mind that my silent stare had the power of a cocked gun in getting my student's quiet attention.

I read in someone's blog that Silence is a weapon of COWARDS. I can see that. Provided you aren't in a dispute with someone completely nuts (where any verbal exchange could land a brick through your window), silence is a great way not to deal with issues. It's camouflage in a war of words. It allows you to retreat instead of standing your ground or – perhaps – finally confronting a Truth.

I think we all need to be more aware of our Silence and how/where it is utilized. There is a nasty repercussion to it's use as a weapon, and that would be the emotional reaction on the part of the “subject” or “victim” (if the emotional impact on the person is intentional). Vittorio Alferi said it best: “Deep vengeance is the daughter of deep silence.”

Be wise with your words, folks, for they are the sound of power. Be wiser with your Silence – it can be the thunder of the coming storm.

Next week – something grand. The creation of a medicine pouch in pictures. See you then!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Paws and Think

World changes are happening all around us. We are inundated with earthquakes, illness, tsunami waves, gigantic whirlpools (I was mesmerized by the one in Japan) and potential reactor meltdowns. Mother Earth is doing a major brush off. (“What ARE these things crawling on me. Ugh! People! I'm gonna have to spray again.”) Who can blame Her? We build on fault lines, erect mansions on land and in areas that Native Americans wouldn't touch with a ten pole lodge pole – and for good reason. It floods. It has mud slides. It erupts. The spirits of ancestors past stand to either side of the mountain, watching the “crazy white people” flow downhill, clutching their wine glasses and L.L. Bean boots.

Now, Japan has the world's focus. There is hunger, death, destruction, suffering. The results are overwhelming. Everyone wants to provide aid, send money, volunteer to help in some way, because we see the fate of the Japanese people mirroring our own tragedies of Katrina and 9-11. And – as with any international aid to an insular culture – there are barriers: bureaucratic red tape, “forms”, political concerns for State Security and the very present threat of potential corruption. Who knows if the money we send will ever translate into a bowl of rice, a warm coat or shelter?

There are living beings who are also suffering, who have no political position, no participation in the urbanization of the planet, and literally no voice. World Vets is an organization dedicated to the rescue of animals in dangerous situations. They already have a team in Japan doing what they can for lost, injured and abandoned pets. Their web site is While you reach out to the people of Japan, please remember those other family members that they loved and cuddled.

Another excellent organization is the SCPA International ( Not only are they helping with the current disaster in Japan, but they also work to bring military working and found dogs home from Iraq and other war zones. They have a “no dog left behind” program which deserves our attention. In the core of your compassion for others, please don't forget the ones with fur.

No Dog Left Behind
 Now, on a personal level, I am please to announce that I have a piece published in the Spring issue of Circle Magazine. This was not a certainty, so it came as a pleasant surprise. The piece is called “Charged To The Hilt”.

I'm even MORE pleased to announce that I am now – however tentatively – up on my feet again. I went yesterday with my pal Jenny A. and picked up the fracture boot. It had to be specially tweaked because the leg is still quite swollen.

However, it does the trick and should serve me well until I get my CRO walker. I see Dr. S. in Langhorne next Friday (April Fools) and he will determine if I'm ready for the transition. So, onward and upward!

Keep on Truckin', Everyone!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Eye Of The Beholder

Last week, I received a notice in the mail. It was from Douglass College (which has now been absorbed into the “Borg” education system which is Rutgers University. The school tried to retain its identity as a women's college within the federated system, but – as we all know - “resistance is futile”.) It is reunion time for the class of 1976. Ducky. There are outdoor dinners, events, lectures, indoor dinners, socials, pleas for money - the typical aging alumnae bill of fare.

It could be interesting – I guess – except I per diem lectured at Douglass for several years past my own graduation, and returned only two years ago to participate in their “Author's Corner” at THAT year's reunion. Add to that the fact that I live a whopping two miles from those ivy covered walls, and the allure of “returning to college” looses a bit of its high gloss shine. Want to visit the old Alma Mater? Go to the end of my road and make a left.

Still, I have never been to a reunion before. Here was a chance to participate and still sleep in my own bed at night. I called a fellow '76 graduate and asked if she was contemplating doing the “Debbie Douglass” thing one more time.

“Why? Do YOU want to go?”

“Well, I was thinking about it. There are a few folks I wouldn't mind seeing again.”

“But, Kat, they'll all be so ...OLD. It's been 35 years!”

I sighed. “We're just as old.”

“We don't look it.”

“Don't you have a mirror?”

“Look,” my friend replied emphatically, “we will never see ourselves as aged. It's wired into our DNA – it's a survival instinct. Other people grow older; we remain vital. I don't know if I want to challenge that.”

She may have a point. When I look at myself in the mirror, I still see strawberry blond hair and smooth skin. At almost 57 my hair has naturally faded from ginger to blond shot with silver. I have crow's feet, and those light brown spots can no longer be explained away as freckles. I DON'T see myself aging – but I know I have aged. So? Why do some folks think that's scary?

I see women in the public eye (actresses, comediennes, singers) and they look like weird disfigurements – plastic sculptured versions of how they use to be. (If you think Joan Rivers is bad, take a look at Dolly Parton!)

Must avoid heat of Sun!

Her lip have since inflated

Charlie's Angel now looks like Charlie's Asian

And Jackie Stallone looks like...hey...wait a minute...

The Mighty Favog???
 We DON'T want to be old. Yet, in centuries past, age was honored. Tribal Elders, Wise Women in their croneage, Arch Druids in their latter years all were seen as the Wisdom Keepers of their communities. I still remember my Grandfather, when commenting about his own gray hair, saying “I earned each and every one of them!”

We belong to a Nature Religion. We can stay young at heart, young in our thinking, and open to the “New”, but we shouldn't defy the natural order or reject the physical aging process. Hell, I refuse to be embalmed in plastic before I'm even entombed in stone or entrenched in dirt!
The essence of who we are is timeless, ageless, endless. Our bodies are our temples. As we become ancient shrines, the power within increases with each lesson learned, each trespass forgiven, each enlightened decision contemplated and enacted. Honey Bunnies, that's a WHOLE lot of magic juice, a blast of senior serge – Hell, I got the old people Pagan power running all through me! ( In Beetle juice it was “demons” but, credit where credit's due.)

When the time comes, we shall leave our physical dwellings and be renewed, then reborn. We get to do it all over again – weird parenting, pimples, puberty – so, relax. Enjoy your dotage. Paint your wrinkles and dye your hair pink. Take you eye liner and play “connect the age spots”. It's only temporary. I'd rather look old and speak out loud than look like a fat Barbie and be unable to move my Botoxed lips.

(p.s. I still haven't decided if I am going or not. I can see that nice, open air lunch on Antilles Field turn into a monumental bug fest. Instead of  meeting up with old friends, I can see myself drowning in business cards from  aggressive "Debbies" I never knew, or detested back in the day. Naw. There's no place like home. I think I'll stay there.)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Love and Trust - Perfect Together?

Perfect Love and Perfect Trust. We have all heard the words. Those in British traditions may use them as passwords into their initiation Circles, and folks from older traditions have borrowed them along the way.

We say the words, we enter the Circle – a world between worlds – and it's on to the ritual. The end.

The end? We just declared we brought two attributes into our sacred space, and into the presence of our gods. What are we actually declaring? Do we even think about it? We stick it on everything that can be bartered and sold, but is it merely a logo? Below are some images I borrowed from the web. Have a look:

There are tee-shirts



Mug designs

Doggie attire

and yes - even skank-wear

Per the conventional understanding of the word, no one has “perfect” anything, let alone LOVE. There isn't any relationship which is so smooth and seamless that there is no disagreement, pressure, stress, anger, misunderstanding or pain. There is no TRUST so perfect that it hasn't been tested or doubted. That is not what is intended by the use of “perfect” in the Craft.

It's retaining your passion and compassion, your heart and forgiveness, your loyalty and respect DESPITE the doubt, disruption and suspicion. The mainstay of such love is communication – talking it out, being willing to be hurt in order to be heard, daring to love despite the cold and silence. It means going beyond your own ego to make the first move, posing the hard question aloud, “risking it” to demonstrate – and salvage – that love.

This should hold true in romantic relationships, family ties, the bond of friendship, and devotion to the Craft. If you can not approach Wicca “In perfect love and perfect trust” - willing to overlook human flaws, to question hazy concepts and trust your coven mates to “have your back” (and talk it out honestly if they don't) – you should respectfully leave.

The Craft, regardless of tradition, should fee like home. You should find love, support and learning there, but also challenge, demands and (often) difficult training.

Perfect Love and Perfect Trust means seeing it through, being “present” and committed. There is precious little of that, these days. Coveners gossip and grow impatient with their priesthood. It seems many of the younger folk want instant magical gratification and elevation, or fall back into lazy ways in response to expectations. (“I can't come to Circe tonight – dog ate my Book of Shadows.”)

Truth – a valuable part of Love and Trust – is treated so subjectively that Pilate's question “What is truth?” echoes today in both kirk AND Circle. We need to return to our basics. W don't need cooler robes, fancier blades, striking new jewelry, or one more pricey goddess statue. We need to reclaim our humanity, our love of God and Goddess, and a joy in each other. We need to develop respect for all – even ourselves. We need to unlock our hearts.

It takes one step, the courage to be the first to move towards the “Divine” in the “other guy” and simply love the miracle that is another being. Anyone willing to risk their hearts to discover Perfect Love and Perfect Trust? I know I've decided to make the effort, even if my knees knock and my outstretched hand is quaking like as Aspen – and goes un-grasped. I will not dwell in negativity or empty words. I'm cleaning house and heading home once again to reclaim that perfect love. Anyone else willing to make the journey?

And, with that, so endeth the lesson.

On a more personal and mundane level, things are moving along with my foot. I'm out of the splint and wrapped in luna boot gauze. I'm told I can walk on it, but that scares the hell out of me. I take a step here and there, but otherwise use the roll-about. However, my foot is looking more "normal". See?

Almost looks like a real foot again

Working full time has taken a lot of writing hours away from me, but I am still in hot pursuit of the elusive “Jersey Goyles.” I have been using images on Google to try and identify sites that others may have photographed, and that has led me to Hightstown, Perth Amboy, Elizabeth and beyond. It's a process, but I'm enjoying the hell out of it.

I'll probably start writing the text of the piece next week, and adjust it according to the images I finally locate. Sad gargoyle news: New Brunswick use to have one “river face” style gargoyle on an older downtown building. Gary when to photograph it – and she's gone. Only the mortar brackets remain. What is WITH you people? Was she hurting anybody? With the school of art around the corner and an art museum down the road, this is how public art is treated? Bring back my gargoyle! (Sorry – stuff like this really pops my cork.)

See ya next week!